Who is Lance Barber?
Lance is an American actor, recognized for his numerous appearances on television, particularly in comedy series. He was born on 29 June 1973, in Battle Creek, Michigan. He’s probably best known for his role as George Cooper Sr., the father of the main character in the CBS sitcom “Young Sheldon”, a prequel to the popular show “The Big Bang Theory”. He’s also had recurring roles in various other television series, including “The Comeback” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.
Early Life and Education
Lance’s road to his eventual success in Hollywood wasn’t straightforward; it was a journey that began in the humble, quiet corners of his hometown.
Lance first fell in love with acting when he was only seven years old, after watching a local production of the musical “Grease”. He started by showcasing his skills in school productions, earning praise and adoration from his teachers and peers. Encouraged by his early experiences, Lance began to refine his craft, and pursue acting as a career.
After matriculating high school, he went to Kellogg Community College, from which he earned an Associate’s degree. Parallel to his studies, Lance performed with the Barn Theatre, alongside Jennifer Garner, before moving to Chicago, Illinois, and joining the famed Second City theatre and comedy troupe.
Following his time in Chicago, Lance moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue more career opportunities.
Roles in TV Series
Lance made his TV series debut in 2001, with an appearance in an episode of the medical drama “ER”. In the following years, he had several minor roles in other popular shows, such as “What I Like About You” (2002), “Come to Papa” (2004), and “Joey” (2005).
One of Lance’s earliest breakthroughs as an actor was in the 2005 HBO sitcom “The Comeback”, which also starred Lisa Kudrow (known for her role as Phoebe Buffey in the hit comedy “Friends”). Created by Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow herself, the show is a satirical take on the reality TV genre. The series focuses on the character of Valerie Cherish (played by Kudrow), a former A-list sitcom star who becomes desperate to rekindle her fame after her career hits a rough patch. Lance played the role of Paulie G., one of the writers of Valerie’s new sitcom who often finds himself at odds with her. Though the series initially only lasted for one season due to low ratings, it garnered a cult following and critical acclaim, which led to a surprise revival nearly a decade later, with a second season premiering on HBO in November 2014.
You won't believe Lance Barber's hidden talent! Get to know the Young Sheldon star now, and don't miss an all-new episode Thursday at 8:30/7:30c.
Posted by Young Sheldon on Monday, October 30, 2017
In 2007, Lance appeared as Nick Lowry in the popular comedy-drama “Californication”, which starred David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone and Even Handler. He also made guest appearances in series such as “The Mentalist” (2008), “Monk” (2009), and “Grey’s Anatomy” (2010).
Another notable role for Lance was in the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. The series, created by and starring Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton, follows a group of low-class friends who own an Irish bar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is known for its dark humor and mockery of common TV tropes. Entering its 16th season, the show is one of the longest running sitcoms which are still being developed. Lance joined the in 2010, playing the recurring character Bill Ponderosa, a hedonistic and selfish character who falls into a downward spiral as the series progresses.
In the following year, Lance made his first appearance in another popular sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory”, in which he played Jimmy Speckman, one of the high school bullies of the character Leonard Hofstadter (played by Johnny Galecki).
However, it was Lance’s role in “Young Sheldon”, the prequel to “The Big Bang Theory”, that brought him mainstream recognition. The series, which premiered in 2017, follows a nine-year-old Sheldon, played by Iain Armitage, as he skips several grades to start high school early due to his extraordinary intellectual capabilities. While a genius in the academic sense, Sheldon’s social skills and understanding of everyday life often lag, leading to humorous and heart-warming moments throughout the series.
Lance plays George Cooper Sr., Sheldon’s father, who is often puzzled by his son’s unique personality and intellectual prowess. Despite this, he provides a grounding presence for Sheldon and his family. Lance’s portrayal of George Sr. has been widely appreciated, with his performance bringing warmth, humor, and a great deal of heart to the character.
— Young Sheldon (@YoungSheldon) November 14, 2018
Roles in Movies
Although Lance is most notably recognized for his TV roles, he has also left a significant mark in the film industry.
Lance made his film debut in the 2002 drama “Tenfold”, directed by Zachary Zises. Another one of Lance’s early roles in the film industry was in the 2005 comedy “The Godfather of Green Bay”, in which he portrayed the character Big Jake Norquist; a small independent film, it offered Lance a chance to exercise his acting prowess in a more cinematic setting.
In the film “For Your Consideration” (2006), Lance worked under the direction of Christopher Guest, a well-known figure in Hollywood’s comedy circuit. The film was a satirical take on the Academy Awards, and Lance played a minor but memorable role, further showcasing his comedic abilities.
In 2008, Lance starred in the sports comedy “Leatherheads”, directed by George Clooney. The film was a period piece set in the early days of professional American Football, Lance playing the role of a football player alongside Clooney, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski.
In 2013, Lance was part of the ensemble cast of “Gangster Squad”, an action thriller about the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) fight to keep East Coast Mafia out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and ‘50s. Lance starred alongside big Hollywood names such as Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Emma Stone, playing the role of an LAPD officer, navigating the gritty, dangerous and morally grey world of law enforcement.
In the following years, Lance primarily focused on his TV work, before landing one of the lead roles in the 2021 musical drama “Raunch the Roll”, centered on a rock band getting together for one last show before their singer’s passing.
Most recently, Lance appeared alongside his “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” co-star, Charlie Day, in the dark comedy “Fool’s Paradise” (2023). Written and directed by Day, the film centers on an awkward man who accidentally becomes a celebrity, and features a star-studded ensemble which include names such as Adrien Brody, Kate Beckinsale and Kim Jeong.
Off-screen, Lance is a devoted family man. He’s married and has two children with his wife, Aliza, whom he often refers to as his greatest accomplishments. Lance values his privacy, and is known for maintaining a low profile, keeping his personal life out of the limelight.
Despite his success, he’s kept his roots in perspective, and regularly speaks fondly of his hometown of Battle Creek. He’s also been known to express his gratitude for his journey, always remembering the path that led him to where he is today.
Interesting Facts and Hobbies
Beyond his acting career, Lance is known for his varied interests. He’s an avid fan of classic rock and enjoys attending concerts whenever his busy schedule allows. He’s also expressed a passion for history, often reading historical books and visiting museums during his free time.
Interestingly, Lance has confessed a soft spot for stage acting, citing its raw, immediate connection with the audience as a unique thrill. He hopes to return to the theater someday, and given his undeniable talent, it’s a prospect that fans eagerly anticipate.
Having carved a successful career in Hollywood over the years, Lance has built a modest fortune; as of July 2023, his net worth is estimated to be around $1 million, coming from his consistent work in television, films and the occasional stage play.